from the or-are-they-too-scared dept
from the as-we-torture-one... dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 2nd 2010 2:03am
from the 4th-amendment,-where-are-you? dept
The whistleblower, Charles Rehberg, uncovered systematic mismanagement of funds at a Georgia public hospital. He alerted local politicians and others to the issue through a series of faxes. A local prosecutor in Dougherty County, Ken Hodges, conspired with the hospital and used a sham grand jury subpoena to obtain Mr. Rehberg's personal email communications. The prosecutor then provided that information to private investigators for the hospital and indicted Mr. Rehberg for a burglary and assault that never actually occurred. All the criminal charges against Mr. Rehberg were eventually dismissed. Hodges is currently running for Attorney General of Georgia in the Democratic primary.Scary stuff. And it gets worse, too, as apparently the court gave "immunity to county prosecutors and their investigators for manipulating and fabricating "evidence" and defaming Mr. Rehberg as a felon in comments to the press."
Mr. Rehberg filed a civil suit against the prosecutors and their investigator for their misconduct, but the appeals court erroneously ruled that he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his private email.
This seems like a massive abuse of power to punish a whistleblower, using emails obtained via questionable means. Bad news all around.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 17th 2010 8:40pm
from the be-careful-what-dirt-you-kick-up dept
Consumerist is now reporting that the lawsuit against the whistleblowers is now over as well, but they don't explain exactly what happened. The implication is that Cash4Gold has finally dropped the lawsuits, though it doesn't say that exactly. Plus, the two former employees are reasonably upset that their names are splashed all over the news as being involved in a lawsuit over "breach of contract" from a former employer. Of course, in suing for breach of contract, the company was effectively admitting that what the whistleblowers said was true rather than false.
Separately, Consumerist notes that while this lawsuit is over, things keep looking worse for Cash4Gold, as the Florida state Attorney General has now started an investigation into the company's practices.
So, good work, Cash4Gold. Not only did your actions lead to significantly more attention to your questionable practices, your lawsuit against those who exposed you didn't accomplish anything other than giving them an opportunity to expose more of your practices, and the end result is an investigation from state officials. Maybe next time focus on improving your business, rather than suing those who expose your shady practices.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 25th 2009 1:57pm
from the dear-streisand... dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 2nd 2009 11:02am
from the how-much-for-that-gold-Streisand-Effect? dept
While Cash4Gold apparently backed off such threats, it did go forward and get an injunction against the former employee to stop her from "publishing any more confidential, proprietary information, and any defamatory information on the internet." I like how it mixes in confidential, proprietary and defamatory information -- so now we don't know which the original reports were. Were they defamatory lies? Or were they just confidential, proprietary information?
Either way, with that injunction, the company contacted Complaints Board -- the site where the employee originally put forth the allegations -- and Consumerist, who also posted on the allegations, and demanded they remove the posts. Of course, with no legal order, both sites refused to do so. In response, Cash4Gold has now sued both sites, once again guaranteeing that much more media attention is paid to alleged claims of underhanded business practices by the company.
Of course, rather than backing down, Consumerist is fighting this and has posted a lengthy and detailed article reviewing the original claims, backing many of them up with additional reporting details and pointing out that this is an ongoing news story that it believes it has every right to write about. Once again, though, we're left wondering why Cash4Gold would do this. All it's doing is drawing that much more attention to the claims against it.
The Citizen Media Law Project post above details two additional factoids about how Cash4Gold's lawyers are trying to get around the rather obvious (it seems) Section 230 safe harbors that almost certainly protect Complaint Board. First, they claim that because Complaint Board edited the title of the post, they're no longer just a service provider, but "created, developed and published." That seems like a long shot. Perhaps more likely to succeed is a reference to the recent Barnes ruling, where Section 230 was tossed out the window after the company promised to delete the content in question (and then didn't). Of course, it's not clear if Complaint Board did, in fact, promise that, but Cash4Gold claims that it did.